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Analyst Perspective: Strategies for Overcoming Common B2B Integration Hurdles

By Lori Angalich | Thu, Aug 18, 2016

Watching the amazing 1-2-3 sweep by the U.S. in the 100m women's hurdles—along with so many other tremendous athletic achievements during the 2016 Olympics—can inspire us to find ways to overcome challenges in our personal and professional lives.

Those responsible for the business to business processes and technologies that keep supply chain, manufacturing, healthcare, financial, logistics, and many other critical processes running smoothly face a growing number of challenges—along with a growing number of demands.  

Of course, you have plenty of your own challenges to worry about, so you may be wondering why you should care about theirs. It's because their success can have far-reaching impact on our companies and on us as individuals—including ensuring that the products we want are available when and where we need them, enabling deliveries to occur on time, and ensuring our healthcare claims are paid.

What it Takes to Win

The always-on, global nature of today's business, along with escalating customer expectations, requires business to business integration and collaboration to be as seamless and flawless as possible. This is far from easy. It requires tying diverse replenishment systems and fulfillment systems together, and developing the trust required to make those processes work across boundaries.

It also requires bringing together diverse companies with varying degrees of technical sophistication, and having all of the right technology pieces (and skills) in place to support it. Our team at Lightwell knows all too well that in B2B integration and collaboration initiatives, there can be so many unknowns, and when working outside of the four walls of an organization, there is a lack of control.

An IBM survey found that 85% of organizations said their external business communities are vital to their success—yet 86% reported barriers that prevent full electronic automation with B2B partners. A majority of these companies continue to rely on email attachments to exchange business documents with some of their partners. A majority of them are concerned about the security of this approach—and for good reason.

Why Companies are Falling Behind

I recently interviewed Bryan Ball, Aberdeen Group's VP and Principal Analyst, Supply Chain Management, to explore the top challenges companies are facing with respect to their B2B Integration initiatives and what approaches he recommends for overcoming them.

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